Multichoice, Little Choice …. NATION

multichoiceSouth African multinationals operating in Nigeria are fast gaining notoriety for shylock practices. Ask the average Nigerian MTN subscriber what he feels about the telecoms giant that has found incredible fortune here and you won’t get any flattering appraisals. Even a dog is not allowed to lap up MTN’s poo, is the refrain in a certain part of the country.

MTN’s calls termination notice has been object of jokes in some quarters for years:  “Your call credit is exhausted and your call is being TERMINATED!” Yes, the word, terminated is seemingly rendered in capital letters. It comes across as if you were a petty thief trying to pinch credit from MTN. These stingy people never allow people a second extra, many would often grumble.

But it’s not about MTN today; it is about another South African firm that has so much cause to be charitable to Nigerian subscribers, but rather treats them like dirt. Hardball talks about MultiChoice, the satellite paytv quasi-monopoly. To be fair, this operator of the DSTV channels is not a monopoly. Let’s just say it has more resources and has proved to have a more ingenious business model.

MultiChoice is not the pioneer paytv firm in Nigeria but again let’s say it stole the thunder from such indigenous firms, such as ABG and even HiTV, later. DSTV blazed the trail by remaking the music channels (with Channel O) to accommodate home-made African music videos. DSTV literally picked Nollywood from the Nigerian bins and made it a huge African brand. It has been doing things with Nigeria’s Premier League; same for basketball and boxing.

DSTV has played roles that a department of the Nigerian Television Authority (the largest network in Africa!) ought to have pioneered two decades ago, but for crippling mediocrity. Today, the country’s broadcast system is still fossilised in the analog age. It is so sad that to get a crisp view of NTA and most Nigerian channels, it has to be through the DSTV.

Even at that, what quality of content? A young boy once told his father that the worst punishment he could ever exact upon him was to make him watch NTA for an entire day; that he would simply die of boredom. This is why some Nigerians erroneously describe DSTV as a monopoly; it isn’t. The sky is large enough for all and content abound in the atmosphere. Hardball wagers that we have mined only the tip of the content that is possible in Nigeria and the entire African continent.

The foregoing notwithstanding, DSTV stands accused of treating her Nigerian consumers with levity and scorn. Last April it increased subscription rates drastically without good reasons. Last week, it blatantly denied subscribers the opportunity of watching the English Premier League, the only reason most people still stick to DSTV.

DSTV simply created Supersport 5 in the premium bouquet and consigned major EPL matches therein. So the sub-premium Compact-plus subscribers who had paid nearly N10, 000 are brusquely denied the EPL. To think that just four months ago, a sharp increase in rate was executed. Now you have to pay about N14, 000 to get a chance to watch the EPL. And you may wait a month to do that if you had just renewed.

What an ignominious way to treat loyal subscribers.